Local members of the United Conservative Party will vote Friday on who will represent Grande Prairie – Wapiti in the next provincial election. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. they will make their way to the Pomeroy Hotel in Grande Prairie to cast their ballot.

The choice is between Kate Potter and Travis Toews. Incumbent UCP MLA Wayne Drysdale announced in April 2018 that he would not be seeking re-election after 10 years.

Potter has served as a Sexsmith town councillor since the 2017 municipal election and works as a family literacy coordinator. She says her time in municipal politics so far helped push her to want to pursue the provincial level.

“I’m so thankful for having had almost a year on municipal government now because it opened my eyes to the way government works. I was shocked at some of the bureaucracy and red tape to go through to get things done.”

Saying she wants to represent the “average resident” of the Grande Prairie area, Potter argues she’s the right candidate because she’s younger than many others who run provincially. She believes she brings a different perspective.

“I’m not a long-term business owner or some of the things that have traditionally been represented by the MLA. What I do bring, though, is connection with people and representation for communities and really what we want to see: that grassroots movement in the provincial government.”

On the other side of the coin is Toews, who is an accountant and has run a corporate family cattle ranching operation and an oilfield environmental company out of the Beaverlodge area over the past 15 years. He was also president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association when the industry was suffering from the fallout from mad cow disease and believes his experience makes him a great candidate.

“With our business experience, I think that positions me well to understand, I think, perhaps some of the unique challenges and opportunities in terms of business opportunity up here in this region.”

Over the past several weeks of local campaigning, Toews says the biggest concern he heard from residents was about the economy and fiscal responsibility. He says he sees this election as the right time to get involved in politics.

“My wife Kim and I, we really enjoy our business and we enjoy the life we have now but we really believe that it’s a significant time in the history of the province, and it’s for that reason that we’re willing to throw our names in the ring.”

Tracy Allard has already been acclaimed as the UCP’s candidate in the new urban Grande Prairie riding, while Daniel Williams is the UCP candidate in Peace River.

Grande Prairie – Smoky MLA Todd Loewen will represent his party in the reworked Central Peace – Notley riding as it now holds his hometown of Valleyview. That race is expected to be an exciting one, as he will be up against fellow MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd for the NDP.